News: New unit joins 3rd CAB family
Story by Sgt. William Begley
SAVANNAH, Ga. - The 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade has added an interesting new asset to the family. The addition of Company E, 3rd CAB marks the addition of the fourth fielded MQ-1C Gray Eagle company in the Army. The unit was activated Feb.16 while a majority of the CAB was deployed in Afghanistan.
The goal of the Army according to Capt. Jonathan A. Coe, commander Co. E, 3rd CAB, is to field every division with a Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems platform to support operations. Gray Eagle will support the reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition mission of the brigade.
“The Army definitely did it right here,” said Coe when describing the new facility on Fort Stewart built just for his unit and their mission. “We have a beautiful 90,000 square foot facility, which allows us enough space to facilitate 12 aircraft.”
High definition cameras allow the platform to employ payloads like the hellfire missile with great accuracy and effectiveness. With that kind of technology and deadly force capability, it would seem these aircraft would have to be piloted by a high ranking individual.
Not so said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dean Bearfield, flight operations officer in charge, Co. E, 3rd CAB. Bearfield pointed out the difference between manned aircraft aviation pilots and unmanned pilots.
“Manned aircraft aviation pilots are all commissioned officers or warrant officers. One of the unique things about our organization is that all of our pilots, from the basic pilot to the aircraft commander, to the standardization operators, are all enlisted soldiers.”
Bearfield, formerly an AH-64 Apache pilot, stated it’s a unique dynamic that a lot of the aircraft knowledge, a lot of the warfighting with this platform, is done with the enlisted soldiers.
“In manned aviation you’re going to have a pilot who is the senior most experienced aviator who is in charge on that aircraft and that’s the case regardless of whether or not the pilot outranks the co-pilot,” said Bearfield.
This is similar to the unmanned aviation world where a soldier like Spc. Rocco Scinto, a Unit Trainer, Company E, 3rd CAB, can also be an Aircraft Commander for a UAV.
“He can be in a ground control station with a platoon sergeant and because of his UT or AC position, be in a leadership role. What he says goes,” continued Bearfield.
Not one to get carried away with his role or his rank, Scinto takes what he is doing very seriously. It’s important to him what he and his team are doing.
“It’s really good to know that the standard that I’m setting today is the standard that will be held up by soldiers who follow me. It’s a good feeling to be a part of something that’s bigger than you,” said Scinto.